Meat still waiting to enter China
Monday 20 May 2013 5:49 a.m.
There's still no word from the Government on when stalled shipments of meat will be cleared to enter China.
A bureaucratic botch-up is still stopping $100 million worth of produce being allowed in, with officials citing a problem with a name change on export certificates.
Beijing has blocked all imports since the Ministry of Forestry and Agriculture became the Ministry of Primary Industries.
Labour's Damien O'Connor says this raises questions around all New Zealand's exports to China and Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy needs to reassure farmers.
"It's a very big issue at the moment for the meat industry they're not quite sure what it this might mean for the future, and again the minister is absent from the issue."
Prime Minister John Key says as well as the ministry name change, another issue came up after his visit to China where he asked the Chinese government to sign off on meat from more New Zealand processing plants.
"They approved the plants on the spot, so I think it's just a catch-up in the paperwork on their end," Mr Key says.
He says there is nothing sinister in the delays, but he did not give a time frame for when the meat will be allowed in.
Executive director of the New Zealand China Council, Patrick English, says China has a "very bureaucratically structured system", and doesn't tolerate errors in documentation.
"When you have a name change, you're talking about changing all the certification and the certification process, and that takes a certain amount of time to get through China," he says.
"Not only that, but you then have to disseminate that throughout a huge country – literally thousands of people."
He says the ministry should have looked into the ramifications of changing its name more closely.
"It's a very serious issue, bringing across goods into another country and the documentation attached to that. In China, the slightest mistake and it's wrong."
He says China is one of the most lucrative export markets in the world.
- VIDEO: Patrick English on Firstline
Meat Industry Association spokesman Dan Coup says exporters could get hit in the pocket.
"That's probably our largest long-term concern I guess is that customers see this problem and worry about the same sort of thing happening again so we lose custom out of it."
Mr Coup says he'd like to see a relaxation on the number of red tape protocols for food exports.
RadioLIVE / 3 News